Transportation Terror in Athens – Athens, Greece

So I got to Santorini which was beautiful but an hour after I had arrived, it became apparent that it was time to say goodbye to Greece. I was getting very itchy feet and laying on the beach just wasn`t doing it for me anymore. So I spent the next few hours trying to arrange the ferries back to Venice.

My last night in Greece was spent by eating swordfish at a lovely small greek restaurant with Marlena (whom I met up with again in Santorini). Then we bought the cheapest wine we could find (3.85 Euro for 1.5 L) and sat in a little row boat on the black sand beach. We reminisced and admired the stars. I still can`t believe how many there were!

The next morning I departed on my 10 hour ferry ride to Athens. I found a nice little spot where I could stretch out and sleep until Mr. Foot (who was something like 8 ft tall) came along and insisted on fighting me for foot room. Ug. And I don`t know if I have mentioned it so far, but it seems like EVERYONE in Europe smokes. I just just quit back in January and anyone is an ex smoker will understand how sensitive you get to smoke. I think I must have smoked 50 second hand cigarettes on that ferry ride. But I was afraid to get up and lose my prized spot (perhaps Mr. Foot would take over the entire bench!).

Finally, 12 bread sticks, one bottle of water and one caramel and pecan ice cream cup later I arrived in Athens. I asked about 15 travel agencies how I should get to Patras (which is 3 hours away by bus and 4.5 by train). No one knew. Or shall I say no one wanted to tell me. I was getting very frustrated because I knew that they knew but because I wasn`t buying anything from them, they refused to help me.

I could not find a bus for the life of me so I decided to take the train. I knew where the metro was so surely I could find the way. About three stops into it and a half hour later, I realized that there was no way I would make my midnight ferry if I took the train route. So I got off and went back the other way to where I had started. I began asking another 10 travel agents, by now having tears in my eyes dreading spending the night in Athens and missing my ferry to Venice.

Finally a girl told me to take a taxi to this place that starts with a K and there would be a bus there. I had to repeat the name of the bus station 5 times so I would get it right to the driver as many of them don`t speak English.

Next, hoping I was on the right track and only 5 hours away from midnight, I tried to hail a cab. Would you believe NO ONE would stop for me! I couldn`t believe it! Here I was practically THROWING myself in front of them and they just sneered! Then the seediest looking probably not even a real licenced cab stopped. It had a makeshift taxi sign on top and was very beaten up. I had no choice. I got in and repeated the “K” place. Then I asked how long it would take but the driver informed me he didn’t speak any English. I sat there watching him chew off all his finger nails into bloody stumps as he drove me into the most deserted and decrepit parts of Athens. I was sure I was about to be raped and murdered, so almost in tears I prayed again for the hundredth time that day. I reminded myself I couldn`t cry because that would prove that I didn’t have faith…and then what would I have.

I can`t tell you the tidal wave of relief that washed over me as we suddenly turned a corner and there was the bus station. I hurried to the Patras bus stop and it was just pulling out. I begged the driver to take me but he said that I didn’t have a ticket. I had to go 50 feet to buy a ticket. By the time I got my ticket a few minutes later, he was gone. I would have to catch the next bus which was cutting things dangerously close.

I got to Patras at 11pm and still had to validate my ticket at the Minoan Lines ticket office which was 9 or 10 long blocks from the ship. I decided to cab it and hope that the office would be open, which it was, and then finally I made it onto the ship. For the 4th time that day, I almost cried but now it was from relief and happiness. I found my little spot on the floor of the ferry opened up my sleeping bag and proceeded to sleep for the next 26 hours.

I woke and decided I would feel better if I had a shower which was definitely the case. After that, I went on a search for food. I found everything extremely overpriced but I had to eat so I settled on my last bit of greek food, a greek salad, and a pistachio bar. I was craving chocolate in the worst way, but all they had was a Bounty bar for 2 Euro. I decided now would be a good time to practice some self discipline…and I spent the next 4 hours thinking about the chocolate that I wasn`t eating.

I crawled back into my sack on my little spot on the floor when about 30 teenagers who were on a contiki tour decided to get the party started. I popped out the ear plug and had a taste of German rap music. It was really quite interesting. And they were enjoying it so much. I was so tired that I had no problem falling asleep to their version of Puff Daddy.

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